PETROTRADE Private Limited (formerly Noczim) has been cleared of defrauding a local client of US$37 000. The court has, however, recommended that the man who had caused the parastatal's arrest be investigated for the same offence.
Magistrate Mr Kudakwashe Jarabini discharged the fuel company at the close of the State's case for want of incriminating evidence before the tables turned against Mr Tapiwa Shoko who had initially filed fraud charges against Petrotrade.
The magistrate found that the evidence led in court actually linked the complainant to the offence and that he should be charged with fraud.
Mr Jarabini discharged the company after hearing strong arguments by defence lawyer Mr Dumisani Kufaruwenga compounded by the unconvincing evidence from State witnesses.
"The accused is hereby discharged at the close of the State's case.
"I recommend that witness Tapiwa Shoko be arrested and charged with fraud.
"Tapiwa Shoko is the transgressor and not the Petroleum Company," ruled Mr Jarabini.
Shoko, who represented an organisation Sickness Home and Shelter, claimed he paid US$35 000 to Petrotrade to qualify for the firm's credit line facility in which he expected to get 72 000 litres of diesel and 72 000 litres of petrol.
After paying the money, Shoko alleged the fuel was never delivered resulting in him filing criminal charges against Petrotrade.
Shoko argued that Petrotrade forfeited his money because they alleged he had earlier on defrauded the company in 2010 by not paying some outstanding debts.
In the defence outline by Petrotrade, Shoko was the one who committed fraud.
It was indicated that Shoko produced a forged document that purported to be authored by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare recommending Sickness Home and Shelter to be allowed to procure fuel.
Shoko, again, is alleged to have produced another forged letter purportedly from the Ministry of Local Government recommending that he should be supplied with fuel by Petrotrade.
He is also alleged to have produced a fake ZB Bank deposit slip that created the impression that he had deposited US$20 000 into Petrotrade's account when he had not done so.
Acting on the alleged misrepresentation by Shoko, Petrotrade released to the man 24 000 litres of diesel and 12 000 litres of petrol worth US$37 272.
The money that Shoko paid to secure the deal for credit lines was, however, channelled to clear the debt that he already owed Petrotrade.
The company argued that it was its policy that no new deal should be struck before the client clears his outstanding debts.